Case Western Reserve University Honors Beatrice Mtetwa with Inamori Prize for Humanitarian Efforts in Zimbabwe

Aug 09, 2011, 13:00 ET from Case Western Reserve University

CLEVELAND, Aug. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Case Western Reserve University's Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence will award its 2011 Inamori Ethics Prize on Wednesday, Sept. 7, to human rights attorney Beatrice Mtetwa. Mtetwa will be recognized for her efforts to fight injustice in her home country of Zimbabwe.

The Inamori celebration begins with an academic symposium at 12:30 p.m. in the Inamori Center for Ethics and Excellence, located on the ground level of Crawford Hall, 10900 Euclid Ave. The event is free and open to the public, however seating is limited.

After the symposium from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in Severance Hall, 11001 Euclid Ave., Mtetwa will be honored with the Inamori medal and monetary award for the tremendous courage she exhibits fighting the injustice endured by everyday citizens and using her legal skills to free local and foreign journalists silenced with imprisonment or expelled from Zimbabwe.  During the ceremony and musical performances, the honoree will speak about her personal experiences.

Among those rescued reporters is Andrew Meldrum, now the deputy managing editor of the GlobalPost and one of the symposium's panelists.

"The government tried to deport me. Beatrice convinced me to challenge that on the grounds that 1 million other people in Zimbabwe had valid resident permits like mine, and, if I allowed the government to deport me by the stroke of a cabinet minister's pen, it would weaken the rights of many others. The judge ruled in my favor," Meldrum says.

These kinds of victories have come at a price for Mtetwa, who has endured death threats and physical assaults, and her stoicism has served as a shining example of ethical leadership.

Mtetwa is the fourth recipient of the Inamori Prize. Others include Stan Brock, founder of Remote Area Medical (2010); Mary Robinson, Ireland's first woman president (2009); and Frances Collins, geneticist and leader of the Human Genome Project (2008). The prize was established with a generous gift from Kazuo Inamori, founder of Kyocera Corporation and Japanese telecommunications giant KDDI.

Meldrum describes her as fearless and determined. "When she goes to a police station, officers take notice and listen to her. She is persuasive and authoritative in court and wins more cases than most, even though she is going against the [Robert] Mugabe government," he says. 

He adds, "She has defended many other journalists, both Zimbabwean and foreign, with the same zeal. Her work has led the way in the battle for press freedom, democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe."

Symposium panelists include:

Peter Godwin, author of best-selling memoirs about his work in Zimbabwe, When a Crocodile Eats the Sun and The Fear. Like Mtetwa, Godwin practiced law in Zimbabwe and later became a foreign correspondent, reporting on more than 60 countries. He has worked and contributed to news stories to such media as the London Sunday Times, BBC, Vanity Fair, National Geographic and the New York Times.

Tom McDonald, an equity partner at Baker & Hostetler LLP and former U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe from 1997-2001. During that time, he guided U.S. foreign policy during critical junctures when the country faced a war in the Congo, human rights violations, threats of terrorism and the HIV/AIDSpandemic.

Andrew Meldrum, currently the deputy managing editor and regional editor for Africa at the GlobalPost. He has covered Zimbabwe since 1980—first for the Guardian and the Economist and later as bureau chief for Agence France-Presse. He benefited from Beatrice Mtetwa's legal skills after his arrest in 2002 for "publishing a falsehood." Later he was illegally expelled from the country. His memoir, Where We Have Hope, recounts his 23 years in Zimbabwe.

Rhonda Y. Williams, associate professor of history at Case Western Reserve University and director of the Social Justice Institute and also directs a postdoctoral fellowship in African American studies. She has written The Politics of Public Housing: Black Women's Struggles Against Urban Inequality and co-edits the book series Justice, Power and Politics with the University of North Carolina Press.

Both the symposium and award ceremony are free and open to the public. Tickets are required for the ceremony at Severance Hall. Call the Severance Hall box office at 216.231.1111 for reservations.  

SOURCE Case Western Reserve University